Open Wide

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Open Wide

‘My name is Archibald; I’m a dentist from Streatham!’

But the sailors did not listen. ‘Jonah!’ they cried as they tipped him into the swirling ocean.

Down, down, down he went.

‘Jonah!’ mouthed a passing octopus.

‘Jonah!’ gulped a huge blue whale as he swallowed Archie whole.

Down, down, down with no time even to check the state of the whale’s molars.

In a red-roofed cave Archie came to rest. He reached for his phone.

‘Thank god, a signal! Elizabeth I am so sorry.’

Beep, beep; cannot receive you call right now.

‘Think I’d make it that easy?’ sighed God.

M J Lewis 2017

(100 words; genre: dentistory)

As an Anglican Atheist I’ve always loved this particular bible story and somehow saw a whale’s maw (if whale’s have a maw!) almost immediately with this photo.  My dear departed cat was called Archie – he had almost no teeth by the end. Not sure how my brain joined up all those dots, but hope you enjoyed the story.

Come on in for more 100-word stories. A big thank you to Rochelle, our host at Friday Fiction and to Dale Rogerson for the intriguing photo.

Thanks to all who read and especially to those who stay to comment.

# O Brave New World

felicity-jones-as-miranda-in-the-tempestSutton’s Imagine Festival of Arts is taking place right now and this year has H. G. Wells, one time resident of Wallington, at its centre.

Last Saturday I performed this piece, inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest, at a Words Aloud event on the theme of The Shape of Things to Come. (It is definitely best read aloud!)

Leaving her strange magical isle to return to our modern rational world, I give you Miranda, whose future is our present.

# O Brave New World

My Ferdinand, who won my eyes and heart, sweet sleeps beside me, warm within this narrow cot and rocked on homeward seas. And he has told me of his world, tall tales for my delight, but swears he does not lie.

And so I’m told we will be wed, most properly, with promenading and posing and sitting up and down within a feast. And me with shoes, all high, walking first upon the arm of one man – who is my father – then another – who is my sweet husband. We will smile and wave to light boxes held aloft. And then speeches – three, by gentlemen all it seems. But then he told – delight – there will be others too, with high shoes and breasts and rainbow garments – beauteous as mankind and goodlier still. And so I learnt there will be dancing, with man and womankind.

And afterwards, my husband tells of secret love – which we have practised much in preparation.

But then at last to our own square of walls and, within, my gifts of dishwasher, garment-soaker, dust-sucker and – most strange of all – cloth-scorcher. And I who needed none before will call these all my own and if my sweet husband so much as touches these gifts he will say with gentle reverence, What setting do we usually use? or, Where do you keep the Ariel?

And when all my gifts have been well-used, we will in all our finery – and shoes – to Nando’s Court, and there we will locate and capture our blessed faces with light boxes and send them to the clouds. And I, who hitherto have communed direct with clouds, and thanked them for gifts of cool rain or shade when dancing naked on the shore, will learn to sing clouds’ praise more roundabout with, post and face and like and magic book.

With one ear now against the vessel’s wooden wall, I hear the sea. I hear the songs of whales and all the creatures deep within who say that I, who sung the very birds to sleep, have no need of light box and bucket list and captured blessings. But with my other ear I hear my sleeping husband’s heart beat strong and true, within that lovely cage of flesh and bone.

In any case I can but try to sit in my four walls and with my light box tap a womanly greeting to a friend and say: Fancy a coffee? And then at Nero’s shrine I’ll hold her smile, and mine also, and snap it into light and space and cloud and post and tag and all things modern, for our friends and their friends and friends of friends. And all will see that, though fair Miranda no longer sleeps beneath the rising moon and sparkling stars, nor dances with the flitting moths and other creatures of the night, neither does she wail her lungs to empty rage, shouting her loneliness to uncaring waves.

And so with full and hopeful heart I say, farewell sweet isle, its four square walls of sea, and greetings husband, shoes and friends.

M J Lewis 2016

The Singer and the Song

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The Singer and the Song

A present from Banbury fair was expected. But a bright ribbon or a swatch of cotton lawn. Not this.

He sat, gruff and unreadable, before the strange contraption.

‘But how?’ she asked.

Recalling the demonstration, he began to coordinate the movements of his large feet. The sharp needle danced up and down, uncertainly at first, then faster and faster.

In a blur of shining metal her wide blue eyes saw curtains and cushion covers for her tiny cottage, a little extra money; while he saw a comely wife, a companion against loneliness and, god willing, a young mother for his children.

M J Lewis 2016

Welcome to Friday Fiction, hosted by the talented writer and artist Rochelle Wisoff- Fields.

Click here for more 100-word stories, stitched together by creative Friday Fictioneers around the globe. A keen sewer myself, I enjoyed this week’s photo prompt from Sandra Crook.

The Owl and the Pussycat – the Cat’s Story

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The Owl and the Pussycat – the Cat’s Story

Granted my husband sang sweetly enough, but what the rhyme doesn’t even mention is his fowl temper. That and the regurgitation.  And that pea-green vessel? My beautiful face was pea-green maybe, under my tabby stripes.

Moonlight, a wide sweep of sand, a small guitar – it was all very seductive, but it wasn’t long before fur and feathers flew.  So it was twit twoo, toodle-oo and he flitted with a fiver and the runcible spoon – the latter all my invention incidentally.

No use crying over spilt milk; plenty more fish in the sea. And I can always invite the registrar over for dinner.

M J Lewis 2016

Must be the silly season – still in holiday mood and enjoying the last of the summer days as September approaches.

Thanks to all who visit and to our Friday Fiction host, writer and artist Rochelle whose productivity is an inspiration. To sail away, for considerably less than a year and a day, to a land where the Story Tree grows click here. Thanks also to Georgia Koch for the photo.

And I’ve also added this link to Edward Lear’s poem and illustrations.

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How to Cross a Bridge

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How to Cross a Bridge

(historical fiction)

At pitch of night? With a tiny chance of arousing huge suspicion – a flame-haired girl in Sunday-best coat and a hired man.

Far better, on market morn in the chaos of cattle and carts and cabbages, hair greyed with ash, an old shawl, scuffed boots. And the hired man in deep conversation with a herdsman as to the possibilities of late summer work, over West way.

Before doubling back – we hope – to where his lover waits in the darkening copse, listening to the soft rustling of leaves, the low notes of roosting pigeons and the secret flutterings of her own belly.

M J Lewis 2016

Arriving late to Friday Fiction (what, on a Friday?!) after a visit to Shetland to help celebrate a family wedding. Crossed various bridges between some of the many islands of that northern archipelago (love that word!), but this is not set in Shetland – would have definitely been sheep on the bridge if it had been and my poor heroine would have had to hide in a rocky outcrop, sheltering from the wind, there being much wind, multitudes of sheep and few trees. Quite tricky to get to, but well worth a visit for any lovers of nature, history and hospitality.

To travel with ease to a virtual land of stories click here. With thanks to artist and author Rochelle who keeps us all from straying too far, even in these summer months and to Adam Ickes for the photo.

The Lambing Barn

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The Lambing Barn

Placental blood and ewe’s milk: but she was used to the smell by now. Head down, pouring cider from the heavy flagon, the girl ignored the remarks of the hired men.

He was at the far end, one hand braced on the floor, one inside the ewe. She stood silently, watching. A pause, a long pulling together of anticipation and with a rush of liquid and an almost human bleat from the animal the sac slid onto the straw. The lamb was tiny, but alive.

He looked up. ‘She’s two more already – this one’ll need mothering.’

‘You mean  me?’

M J Lewis 2016

Here we are at Friday Fiction and it’s already Sunday. Thanks to our host the writer and artist Rochelle and, for the photo, thanks to Sandra Crook, a regular at Friday Fiction (and often the first to post).

What I know about lambing could be written on the back of a postage stamp – remember those? – but we’re all mammals, so based this on my own experience. Any sheep farmers out there are welcome to put me right on the details!

 

The Soft Young Down of Her

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The Soft Young Down of Her

The days were short and the trees bare by the time he returned to the village in the valley. Twelve long months away, living hand to mouth: working the land, birthing lambs – whatever he could get.

He’d thought of her all year like no other – the soft down of her arms, her budding breasts, her spirit bright and nervous as a newly fledged Dunnock. But so young – and what had he to offer?

Now her face told it all: frosted ice over deep water. In his absence someone had taken what he hadn’t dared to touch. He was a fool.

M J Lewis

Arrived very late last week at Friday Fiction and apologies for doing hardly any visiting and commenting.

Thanks to Rochelle for all her hard work keeping us in order week after week and for also providing the photo this week.  To visit more stories inspired by this photo prompt click here.

The title of my piece is a line taken from The Farmer’s Bride by Charlotte Mew.

Go or Stay?

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Go or Stay?

Two am: one last time, you ask the hollow-eyed girl in the mirror that simple question: Go or stay?

If you could follow it back, hand over hand, when did it go wrong? Was it one day, one hour, one moment when doubt crept in? Or was it built layer upon layer, the whole sad, human edifice of seemingly insignificant details?

Don’t come to the airport, I might die of sadness, I said.

Meaning: Come to the airport, I’m already dying.

He sleeps on; scrumpled face, mouth slightly open. Sweet, vulnerable. But then love was always the easy bit.

M J Lewis 2016

Flying in very late to Friday Fiction, hosted by the writer Rochelle Wissoff -Fields at Addicted to Purple, with photo prompt from Rich Voza.

This post is not an allegory, a metaphor, a whatever – it’s just a piece of fiction. On the other hand, I did go to bed Thursday night here in London, UK, Europe and woke up in Little England. Frankly, still stunned!

America – watch and learn. Donald and Boris? Don’t even think it, only now I have.

 

When Dad’s Away

When Dad’s away my mother blooms,

a princess in peachy lace,

gives the hoover the run around

serenading the baby on her satin hip.

 

We feast on scrumbled eggs and tin salmon

cross-legged on old magazines in front of the telly,

let the baby suckle to kitten-soft sleep,

leave the fairies the dishes.

 

Night-time my brother takes the dog to bed

and I whisper waking spells,

crossing fingers three times, three times, three o’clock,

to tiptoe to the big bed

and lie in the lee of her back.

 

Miranda Lewis 2016

The Affair

 

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The Affair

He wasn’t even good-looking – perversely, the reverse.

The reunion drinks do – tepid white wine and unidentifiable canapés – was his suggestion. The innocent chance encounter, supposedly.  And there he was on the other side of the room, entertaining the throng around him.

She’d always been the good girl –conscientious student, loving wife, adoring mother. It was what she’d always wanted. But the only certainty now was that no one must ever know otherwise; she must tell nobody.

As she launched herself across the wide expanse of the hall, she felt more alone than she’d ever felt and strangely more self-consciously present, more exhilarated.

M J Lewis©2016

If I was in romantic, pastoral mood last week, that seems to have passed. I suppose this is love, of sorts, in all its destructive perversity. Have taken to my bed with a stomach complaint, which could account for the dyspeptic nature of this (entirely fictitious) story. But seriously, I do need to stop writing the nice stuff!

Thanks to our talented host Rochelle, who this week also provides the photo and continues to conduct Friday Fiction with panache, encouragement and tact as she produces book number three. Impressive!